Help the Hellbender

Posted on October 26, 2012

Help the Hellbender!

“Whether you live near the Blue River or just like visiting it, chances are you think that it’s a pretty special place. The hellbender salamander thinks so too. Unfortunately, a number of habitat and water quality concerns threaten the health of the local places that we know and love. By learning about the hellbender, the surrounding environment, and some simple steps that make water cleaner and safer, you can make sure that the Blue River continues to be a great home for people and giant salamanders alike.

Everyone can do something to Help the Hellbender. On this website, you will find information about the hellbender, as well as household and farm management practices that can help keep the Blue River clean. People who fish and kayak can also learn what they should do if they see one in the wild (hint: you shouldn’t eat them!)."

http://www3.ag.purdue.edu/extension/hellbender/Pages/default.aspx

Want more info?

Check out the Facebook page or the youtube channel!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Help-the-Hellbender/369598889735989

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ez4btGPEcjI

Photos, text, and etc courtesy of Purdue Extension Office.

What’s with the Weather?

Posted on August 24, 2012

What’s with the Weather?

Last year it was flooding on the Wabash. This year it’s exceptionally dry over most of Indiana. How does anyone make sense of it all? Well, if you’ve canoed on the right segment of Blue River you may have noticed a river gage. There’s one in Fredericksburg, and another near White Cloud. There are thousands of these in the US that collect data constantly on the water levels of rivers and streams. They’re maintained with our taxes by the US Geological Survey. We all agree that not every tax dollar is wisely spent but in this case I’d say they are, because they do start to make some sense of the weather.

Blue River has been measured and recorded almost every day since 1931. Many other rivers in Indiana have been too. Take today, August 23rd for example. The gage reported the water flow of Blue River at White Cloud at 29 cubic feet of water per second (cfs). Last year on this date August the flow was 49 cfs. The lowest flow in the past 80 years for this date was 18 cfs in 1936 (the dust bowl years), and the highest flow was 1830 cfs in 1977.

That’s a lot of numbers. What are important are averages. The median discharge for August 23rd for the past 80 years has been about 67 cubic feet per second. So obviously Blue River has been well below normal both this year and last. That’s bad news for most animals that live in the water. Back-to-back droughts are hard on their habitat.
Take the small colorful fishes known as darters. We had a drought in the 90’s where the whole population of spotted darters in Blue River moved miles down the river because they needed better water. Slow moving and stagnant water contains little oxygen. It took a years before they were able to expand further upstream again.

What will this year do? Again the fish will suffer greatly, and probably many of the mussels. With a drought this bad it will probably take years for them to fully recover, so let’s hope next year we get plenty of rain.
To check real time river and stream conditions in Indiana go to nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/in/nwis/rt.
By Allen Pursell with The Nature Conservancy in Indiana

What’s with the Weather?

Posted on August 24, 2012

What’s with the Weather?

Last year it was flooding on the Wabash. This year it’s exceptionally dry over most of Indiana. How does anyone make sense of it all? Well, if you’ve canoed on the right segment of Blue River you may have noticed a river gage. There’s one in Fredericksburg, and another near White Cloud. There are thousands of these in the US that collect data constantly on the water levels of rivers and streams. They’re maintained with our taxes by the US Geological Survey. We all agree that not every tax dollar is wisely spent but in this case I’d say they are, because they do start to make some sense of the weather.

Blue River has been measured and recorded almost every day since 1931. Many other rivers in Indiana have been too. Take today, August 23rd for example. The gage reported the water flow of Blue River at White Cloud at 29 cubic feet of water per second (cfs). Last year on this date August the flow was 49 cfs. The lowest flow in the past 80 years for this date was 18 cfs in 1936 (the dust bowl years), and the highest flow was 1830 cfs in 1977.

That’s a lot of numbers. What are important are averages. The median discharge for August 23rd for the past 80 years has been about 67 cubic feet per second. So obviously Blue River has been well below normal both this year and last. That’s bad news for most animals that live in the water. Back-to-back droughts are hard on their habitat.
Take the small colorful fishes known as darters. We had a drought in the 90’s where the whole population of spotted darters in Blue River moved miles down the river because they needed better water. Slow moving and stagnant water contains little oxygen. It took a years before they were able to expand further upstream again.

What will this year do? Again the fish will suffer greatly, and probably many of the mussels. With a drought this bad it will probably take years for them to fully recover, so let’s hope next year we get plenty of rain.
To check real time river and stream conditions in Indiana go to nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/in/nwis/rt.
By Allen Pursell with The Nature Conservancy in Indiana

Paddling Lingo 101

Posted on August 14, 2012

Paddling Lingo 101

There are many different terms associated with canoeing and kayaking. We all hear them, but what do they really mean?

For example, CFS – what in the world does that mean?

CFS is the measurement by which water flow is determined. It literally means “cubic feet per second.” When guides speak of river levels, one often hears “It’s at 35 CFS” meaning, every second 35 cubic feet of water is passing a given point on the river.

That’s all well and good, but what does a cubic foot of water look like? A good rule of thumb is to think of a cubic foot of water as a little bigger in size than a basketball. So, let’s say you were standing beside the river. If we use the previous example of 35 CFS, every second, 35 basketballs would whiz past your feet. Mind boggling, eh?

But there’s a trick to this CFS stuff. A relatively high CFS doesn’t actually mean a particular river is running at high water levels.

You see, every river has a specific, and different, optimal flow which is determined by many factors including its gradient, depth, width etc. A high CFS measurement on one river might mean it is in flood stage, but on a different river, that same CFS could mean the water is exceptionally low.
Now that you’ve been introduced to river terms and have a better understanding water levels, the next time you hear a number followed by “CFS” and your buddy turns to you with a “huh??”, you can just tell ‘em it’s all about basketball!

Paddlesports Lingo 102

Posted on August 13, 2012

Paddlesports Lingo 102

If you hang around the river much, you will hear paddlesport terms… but do you really know what they mean?

What are “EDDIES”?

Eddies are usually found behind rocks or other obstacles where the water reverses itself and is pushed upstream. Most eddies are calm and quiet, and other eddys can be squirrelly and unpredictable (maybe you know an “Eddy” like this!). Eddys are great places to stop the boat and wait for people, or to ambush them in a water fight.

Blue River offers a half day trip that is a Class 1 trip. What is a Class 1 river?
Class 1 is categorized as easy – waves small, passages clear; no serious obstacles, perfect for all ages and abilities. No guide needed.

River Left- When you are facing down river with current the side to your left is river left.
River Right-When you are facing down river with current the side to your right is river right.

Riffles- Are a common term used for small areas of rapids.

Flat Water- Is still water or water with minimal current.

Back Water-is a still body of water held back by a dam, obstruction, or prevailing countercurrent.

Got a term and need a definition? Stop by or contact us online!

Getting on the water legally!

Posted on August 10, 2012

Getting on the water legally!

Where is the public access to the Blue??? This is a common question from many of our visitors. Blue River flows through one of the most scenic, interesting and diverse areas of Indiana. There are different sections of the river for all to enjoy, each bringing it’s own qualities to the river.

Generally, public access sites are from Milltown south. There is no public access north of Milltown. Listed below are the public access sites along Blue River.

Milltown to Rothrock Mill

The most popular day-long trip would be from Milltown to the Rothrock Mill Access Site owned by the Department of Natural Resources. The trip is about 14 miles in length and should take 4-6 hours to float. The mill dam has been breached, but canoeists should still portage around the old mill and dam site on the left bank. Watch for the iron bridge about 800 feet upstream from the Rothrock Mill Access Site and take out on the left bank at a gravel ramp and wooden steps. You may picnic at the access site, but overnight camping is not allowed. To obtain driving directions to the take out point, ask for a map at the canoe livery. It’s not far, but there are several turns involved!

Rothrock’s Mill Access Site to Harrison-Crawford State Forest

The float from the Rothrock’s Mill Access Site to Stage stop access site is about 13 miles and takes 4-6 hours. This section of the river flows under Interstate 64 and State Road 62 before encountering another old mill dam near White Cloud. You may be able to navigate through the middle of this small dam since it has also been breached, but you may also want to portage around either side of the dam, particularly if the river is above average flow. Continuing the float, you will come to the State Road 462 bridge in about 2 miles; within another 1/2 mile, a Department of Natural Resources access site is available on the right bank (near Blue River Chapel) just downstream of the bridge. Another mile will take you to a large “horseshoe” bend in the river, on the right bank is Stagestop Campground, owned by the Department of Natural Resources. You will also be able to exit the river at the Stagestop Campground sign.

If you wish to continue another 10 miles to the mouth of Blue River, a Department of Natural Resources access site is located on the right bank at the confluence with the Ohio River; the lower several miles of the river are very slow flowing. The road to the access site at the Ohio River is indicated by a boat ramp sign and arrow pointing to the left on State Road 62 about 4 miles west of the road to Stagestop Campground.

From Rothrock’s Mill Access Site to the access site near Blue River Chapel or to Stagestop Campground, two shuttle routes may be taken. Leaving the mill, go southeast on Rothrock Mill Road and immediately turn right (south) onto Burgess Circle Road. Follow this road along the river and turn right (south) at the next road, which is Moberly Road. Turn right (south) at Harrison Spring Road (paved) and follow it south to State Road 62. Turn right (west) on State Road 62 and another three miles will take you to the road to Blue River Chapel and less than another 1/2 mile to the road to Stagestop Campground. Both roads are on the left (south) side of the road.

Since the public access sites are owned by IDNR, contact the State Park for more information: 812-728-8232

All information provided by the Indiana DNR. For more information you can visit the following websites:
• http://www.in.gov/dnr/outdoor/4493.htm
• http://www.indianaoutfitters.com/blue_river.html

The Blue River Basin

Posted on July 03, 2012

The Blue RIver Basin

The Blue RIver Basin is a karst system lying in Harrison, Clark, Crawford, Washington, and Orange counties. The area supports rare karst glades (which are found along Rabbit Hash Trail) on the surface as well as numerous caves and underground springs and rivers. These cave systems deliver oxygen rich water to Blue River to help support not only the above ground ecosystems but also the rare cave invertebrates and unique species such as the northern cavefish and Indiana bat. Blue River itself is home to significant species of freshwater mussels, the elephantear mussel is an important one, along with many others and is the last remaining river in Indiana that is home to the Hellbender Salamander.Blue River is the heart of all of these ecosystems and rare plant and animal communities. The health of the river affects the health of the cave systems, the surface communities (glades and woodlands), as well as the people that live, work, and play in this area of southern Indiana. Blue River is an amazing part of the Indiana that should be cared for, respected, and enjoyed by everyone.

The Hellbender - Blue River’s Gentle Giant

Posted on June 28, 2012

The Hellbender — Blue River’s Gentle Giant

Believe it or not, a giant of a creature lives in Blue River. Every day canoeists and kayakers float over these giants and never realize they’re just a few feet away. Despite the scary name, this animal doesn’t have a temper. But if you saw one you’re likely to be quite impressed. At up to 24 inches in length the Hellbender is the largest salamander in North America. And they are known to live over for over 25 years. Only Japan and China have a salamander larger than the Hellbender.

One of the reasons they are rarely seen is that they are exceptional at hiding and are camouflaged like the river bed. They prefer very clean streams with fast flowing, well oxygenated water. Unfortunately they have disappeared from all of the streams in Indiana except for Blue River and are considered to be an endangered species. Even in Blue River their numbers are declining for reasons not fully understood. The Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife together with Purdue University are studying the Hellbenders of Blue River to find out just why this may be the case.

While we’re still learning about them, there are some common misconceptions about Hellbenders according to researchers at Purdue University:

Myth: Hellbenders deplete local fish populations.
Fact: They feed primarily on crayfish (crawdads).

Myth: Hellbenders are harmful and dangerous.
Fact: They rarely bite unless provoked.

Myth: Hellbenders make great household pets.
Fact: Hellbenders are difficult to keep in captivity and often die.

What to do if you encounter a Hellbender
Leave it alone. While it’s exciting to see this unusual animal please don’t bother it.
If caught while fishing cut the line without removing the hook. Taking out the hook may severely injure this rare animal and do more harm than good.

Essentials of River Canoeing Course in Milltown

Posted on June 02, 2012

Essentials of River Canoeing Course in Milltown

On Sunday, June 10, 2012  Cave Country Canoes in Milltown Indiana will host the American Canoe Association certified class “Essentials of River Canoeing”.

This class is open to the public and is appropriate for ages 12 and older. This course will emphasize entry-level paddling skills and techniques for the tandem canoeist with an introduction to paddling rivers, how to recognize and avoid hazards, perform river maneuvers, rescues, and respond to emergencies on moving water.

About the Instructor

Douglas Wagoner of Green Earth Outdoors will provide primary instruction for the course.  Douglas first found his passion for canoeing growing up near Blue River where he padded its waters on a regular basis throughout his childhood and continues so today.  

Since that time his passion for sharing the outdoor with others has become a cornerstone in his life.  A professional canoeing, backpacking and alpine climbing guide and outdoor skills instructor since 1991, he has provided hundreds of people of all ages the critical outdoor skills to achieve their personal goals.  He is a current American Canoe Association Instructor and has lead canoeing trips all over the U.S. from the Upper Missouri River Breaks in Montana, to the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande, to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota, where he is a licensed guide and has conducted annual trips since 1993.

What to Bring

Participants should bring a swim suit or synthetic shorts/shirt, shoes that can get wet, sun protection, lunch and plenty of water. Cost for the class is $75.00 Payable to Green Earth Outdoors.

Registration

Space limited to 8 participants Call 812 365 2705 ext 0 9-5 daily to register or email RO@marengocave.com

9th Graders Canoe Free

Posted on April 17, 2012

Ninth Graders

Ninth grade students across the country, including local freshmen, can go paddling down the Blue River for free this season thanks to a new program announced jointly by the Professional Paddlesports Association (PPA) and Cave Country Canoes. Called the “9th Grade Paddle Pass,” the program allows students to register and receive a passport that will get them up to 10 free paddling trips with participating outfitters across the U.S, said the program is designed to get local kids out on the water, enjoying nature.

“Many of our local high school freshmen cross the Blue River every day on their way to school, but they’ve never had the opportunity to explore this treasure right in their own backyards,” Carol Groves said. “We’re please to help PPA increase participation in paddling by young people, which we hope will lead to them being good stewards of our natural resources.”

Program Promotes Activity

PPA decided to target ninth graders for the free paddling program because “children entering high school are beginning to form patterns of what their futures will become,” said Executive Director Rachel Wisner. She cites studies showing that, compared with past generations; today’s youth are more prone to obesity, Attention Deficit Disorder and impaired social skills due to a lack of unstructured play time outdoors.

“The socially acceptable way of life for most teens is to sit inside in front of a computer or television screen after school,” Wisner said. “We want to reintroduce kids to the joys of spending time in the great outdoors.”

How to Register

To participate in the program, 9th graders must register at www.paddlepass.com and follow any additional instructions. They also must have an adult sign for and accompany them. Not valid on Memorial Day or Fourth of July weekends.

Teachers

Teachers of 9th grade classes can submit a video for a chance to win a free trip for their entire class through Paddle-O-Mania.